I recently joked that I wear my neurosis on my sleeve, poking fun at my infamous lack of boundaries. I am plagued by dark thoughts, dysfunction and screwball thought patterns, all of which would be time-consuming and exhausting to mask. Frankly, I have no interest in hiding who I am. I’m a hot mess and living it out in the open makes me feel less alone. Lugging my crazy into the daylight zaps its beastly traits that grow and strangle in the loneliness of the dark.
I have deep-rooted insecurities that, if I fail to name and let pass, manifest as jealousy, anger, malice, ridicule, snobbery, stubbornness, to name a few. These are ugly, desolate places to visit. I leave feeling empty and damaged. I leave having emptied and damaged. Living in secret shame gives power to my very refined ability to spiral into a place where there is no hope for anything. I become unreachable, unforgivable, unloveable, unteachable.
The only way I know how to climb out of those caverns is to describe my surroundings to the people I love and trust. I stand in the muck and I look around and call out, “Okay, well, it’s dark. I can’t see much. I don’t see anything that looks like love. There’s some self-hatred in the corner. It’s enormous. It’s winding itself around me. There’s jealousy at my feet. It’s pinning me down. Friend, my hand is caught in something, it’s a web of everything wrong with me. It’s full of mistakes and unkind words and so much hurt. It’s thick and sticky.”
I talk. And I talk. I talk until cracks of light split open. I talk until I feel less small and more rational. I talk until I’ve schlepped each Huge, Scary, Unbeatable belief into the open where I dissect each one in the safety of friendship. In the light I see my thoughts for what they are: thoughts. Thoughts I can take or leave. Thoughts I can give power to or squelch. And long after my company has left, I can linger and poke at each mass with my toes until I feel brave enough to reclaim my power. My control.
One day soon I’ll be able to do this on my own. I will know unequivocal self-reliance. Maybe. But maybe not. I can’t be sure. I do know that right now I don’t live in solitude and I’m not always as strong as I maybe should be; I choose to lean on those around me and be needy on the days I don’t know anything else.
I’ll be needy until I’m not; as long as I am needy, you’ll find me talking about it. I am unfinished. This will always be true. I hope to be chiseling away at my character until I fire my last synapse. I pray to whoever listens that I’m not forever struggling with the same set of issues, but that I am forever refining parts of Shannon.
How do I avoid being the epicenter of chaos? I don’t know. If I did I would have sold tickets to that workshop by now. Maybe there is no avoiding it for someone like me. Maybe there’s only being aware that a personality like mine is predisposed to drama. Knowing that when drama comes all I can do is love myself and those around me through the storm, taking the steps to assure that I come out the other side better for it, knowing more about myself and how to embody love and kindness.
It might not be the easiest ride of your life, but you’ll love me if you let yourself. I promise.